Special Virtual Panel CFP Occult Psychology : Esotericism, Occultism, and Magic at Southwest Popular/American Culture Association (deadline Dec 13) (conference Feb 22-27)

George Sieg's picture
Type: 
Conference
Date: 
December 13, 2020
Location: 
New Mexico, United States
Subject Fields: 
Social Sciences, Psychology, Popular Culture Studies, Intellectual History, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology

Archetypal and Jungian psychology have a well-established and verified relationship with esoteric and occult worldviews, a circumstance demonstrated even more clearly with the publication of Jung's Liber Novus.  However, while there is considerable literature on the intersections of the general background of psychodynamic origins with the occult milieu, they have been explored less systematically and also less sensationally.  Similarly, while parapsychology occupies a significant place in popular cultural lore that overlaps with conspiracism and also the study of the paranormal, systematic inquiry into the relationship of scientific psychology with occult, esoteric, magical, and mystical worldviews has also been less prominent, though present nonetheless.  Relatedly, various esoteric, occult, and magical worldviews have either implied or explicitly advocated antipsychiatric positions, and/or condemned scientific psychology; the Church of Scientology being the most prominent but by no means the only example.  Of broader and more wide-ranging presence and interest is the popular-cultural conception and reception of the intersections and interactions between psychology, parapsychology, psychiatry, and related disciplines with the world esoteric, occult, and magical belief and practice.  These tropes have immense currency in popular culture and fiction across media and genre, with the haunted/demonic/diabolical/paranormal asylum (cf. American Horror Story, the role of Arkham Asylum as shared-world fixture) being a prominent example.  Others include the ascription of magic or near-magical power to hypnosis and mesmerism, the association of parapsychological research and psychic powers, the semimythical power ascribed to thought reform, "brainwashing," "black psychology" (in the sense of black projects aesthetically equivalent to the "dark" or "black" arts), psychic driving (as depicted in Hannibal), and the psychological and ceremonial tortures associated with the mythology and tropes of Satanic Ritual Abuse in fiction and in actual conspiracist conceptions.  Another major area of intersection is the association of parapsychological study with paranormal investigation of hauntings and/or endeavors at exorcism.  These concepts themselves overlap with the diabolical in popular culture and in various esoteric, occult, and religious worldviews, and these tropes appear in numerous supernatural horror/adventure media and also "reality" investigation programs such as Ghost Hunters.  

Finally, the close association between the reputed spiritual risks and dangers of esoteric, occult, and magic practice and the cultural/secular conceptions of madness, insanity, and mental illness has immense distribution throughout fiction and in some cases ostensible nonfiction.  While H.P. Lovecraft did not originate the intersection of these tropes, his mythos has become iconic of them, and contributed inspiration to a vast profusion of subsequent examples, along with their meta-representations in interactive fiction by variations on "sanity" mechanics.  In contrast, the emphatic distinction between mental illness and the supernatural/paranormal is maintained by some religious organizations invested in exorcism (the Roman Catholic Church) and deliberately effaced by others (Protestant spiritual warfare practitioners who ascribe mental illness itself to demonic agency).  Relatedly, the interpretation of the willingness to engage in magical misdeed or even magical or occult practice itself as a kind of moral insanity has also occurred in anti-occult conspiracism, but is also represented in fiction in which access to the paranormal is directly associated with spiritual and/or psychological risk and threat that is also characterized by associations with transgression.  (A popular example in various gaming media would be the almost inevitable correlation of psychic power and demonic invasion in the Warhammer franchise.)

These examples only scratch the surface of the wealth of possible areas of popular-cultural research into the reception and representation of interactions between esotericism, occultism, magic, psychology, and psychiatry, subsumed here under the broad title "occult psychology."  This is the focus of a special online virtual panel intended for the Area for Esotericism, Occultism, and Magic at the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association, holding its annual conference entirely online this February 22-27.  If you are interested in proposing a presentation in this panel, or in receiving a copy of the full CFP for the Area, please contact as soon as possible Dr. George J. Sieg : georgejsieg@gmail.com / (505) 440-2105.  The proposal deadline is December 13, but it is still possible to join the panel.  Please email your interest and/or a brief abstract at your earliest convenience or contact the above email address with any questions.

Contact Info: 

Dr. George J. Sieg : georgejsieg@gmail.com

Area Chair : Esotericism, Occultism, and Magic at Southwest Popular/American Culture Association

(505) 440-2105

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